Years Ago, I’d Get Early Notice of public tours coming up at my old workplace, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and tip off readers. It’s a lot easier to get that info in recent years so I haven’t bothered, but then …Covid. No tours. Except these days, the quality of “virtual tours” has increased so much that you can actually “go” places that you can’t go even if there was a public tour.
Today is a special anniversary for me (and, well, OK, sure: NASA too).
In 1984, President Ronald Reagan announced the U.S. would build a space station. NASA started gearing up, with various chunks of the project assigned or adopted to various NASA centers. Despite being known as the center for unmanned space probes, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory took on parts of the project work.
In This Episode: A wild story of several civilians who rescued a piece of history — a little-known account from the sidelines in the race to the moon.
In This Episode: I’m recording this episode the evening of July 20th: the 50th anniversary of the first humans landing on the moon. If you think it maybe took Uncommon Sense to get there, you’re right: it took an extraordinary amount, and this episode talks about some of the details that you may not have heard about before.
It was 50 years ago Saturday that Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong piloted the Eagle — the first manned lunar-landing spacecraft — to the surface of the moon.
In This Episode: To Boldly Go? No, this isn’t about Star Trek, but rather something even better: real life. This is the story of a 9-year-old with Uncommon Sense who was inspired to reach for the stars — and years later inspired a bunch of other kids growing up behind him.
In This Episode: I love watching others and recognizing signs of Uncommon Sense. I’m going to tell you about another friend of mine (who has no idea I’m going to talk about this), since it’s a great example of taking something you see with a grain of salt, and calling B.S. when it’s necessary. And then, I take on the universe.
In This Episode: From California, where I came to see and reflect on the End of Mission for the Cassini spacecraft — its so-called Grand Finale. This isn’t about the mission per se, but rather the thinking behind it, how that fits into True’s mission, and how that ties into this week’s Honorary Unsubscribe! In other words, The Bigger Picture.
Chasing New Horizons:
Inside the Epic First Mission to Pluto
by Alan Stern & David Grinspoon
I’ve been waiting for this one! After pre-ordering months ago, this book arrived on its publication date: May 1 — and it’s spectacular.
Note: I actually wrote this in January to explain the background on an item I had put up for auction. It was deleted once the auction was over, but a reader wanted to be able to point someone at the text because he thought it was interesting. So here it is. –RC
Updated with Post-Eclipse photos and video. (Jump to Updates)
A solar eclipse occurs when the moon gets between the sun and Earth, casting a shadow on the Earth’s surface. This can happen only during a new moon when the sun and the moon are in conjunction as seen from Earth in an alignment referred to as syzygy.
Long-time readers know that This is True was created while I still had a Day Job. It was a very cool job: I was on the engineering staff at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (1986-1996 — True was started in 1994, so there was a two-year overlap).
I have quite a bit to say about the lead story this week. Let’s start with the story, from the 23 November 2014 issue:
As a life-long NASA geek (and former employee of a NASA center), I pay reasonably close attention to the goings on at NASA. I spotted something in my Facebook feed, though, that made me roll my eyes about how not to inform the public about something that should be of great interest.
It’s been forever since I’ve written a “What I’ve been reading lately” blurb. You’ll like what has been on my tablet lately. (It’s amusing that while putting this in my blog software and having to choose categories, both “Away From Work” and “True Business” seem appropriate. Read on, and you’ll understand!)
It’s 2012. There are no more adventures. Been there, done that, seen it, ho hum, right?
There are still adventures to be had in this world, and several of them happened this past week.
My writing time this week was interrupted: I only started in the late evening, because I had my satellite TV tuned in to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where they were monitoring the landing of the latest rover on Mars, Curiosity (the best-named science craft ever); the mission itself is called the Mars Science Laboratory — accurate, if not as inspiring.
On Saturday my wife and I had the opportunity to “have dinner with” the first man to set foot on the moon, Neil Armstrong. It happened to be almost exactly* 43 years after that spectacular event. Like many kids who grew up in the 60s and watched that history being made, Armstrong was a hero to me, so when I got the opportunity to do this, I of course leapt at it.
Now and then I mention interesting books I’m reading, or TV shows I’m watching. I’ve found two related TV specials that are so good, I ended up saving them and showing them to my wife, who is also finding them fascinating.
I’m really taken with a video released on YouTube last week. It’s an Auto-Tune, which is the name given to soundtracks that use the audio plug-in of the same name. Auto-Tune was designed to correct the pitch of vocals, but clever music creators realized they could use it to make spoken word recordings musical. This is a fantastic example of the genre.